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From Montreal’s Joe Beef: A recipe for four hour Lamb for two With Condimint

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Jennifer May’s Photo of the Dish
My rendition of the dish 
         There was a time when everyone who visited the south of France came back and immediately went straight to their oven to prepare something called “Seven Hour Gigot of Lamb”.  It was one of those marvels that appealed to lazy cooks as it involved very little work—just cutting up tomatoes, onions, garlic and rosemary and making some elementary rub for the lamb itself.  Of course the thing fell apart the minute it finally emerged from the oven and everyone swooned over the garlic-y sweetness.  As it turns out, the lamb didn’t necessarily need all that time in the oven and the extreme greyness of the meat didn’t contribute much to the aesthetics of the dish. So one Sunday, when I came across a beautiful shot of a crispy brown piece of lamb encircled by bright green peas of two varieties, a few artichoke hearts and what appeared to be green onions, I was hooked.  It didn’t hurt that this recipe was found in “The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of sorts” (Ten Speed Press 2011).  The cookbook has brought Montreal’s famous Joe Beef restaurant even more fame.  I should imagine you will soon have to sell your first born to get a table. Or you can just buy the book and cook from it yourself. 

         Joe Beef, the restaurant, (2491 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, Montreal. Tel: (514) 935 6504), is a modest-looking place in an unprepossessing neighborhood in Montreal.  Its looks are deceiving for a restaurant whose entire existence is owed to lavish food like foie gras and lobster to say nothing of its chefs’ takes on its namesake Beef.  What David McMillan and Frederic Morin have created is more than a place to eat, it’s a culinary shrine and culinary adventures in Montreal are not complete without at least trying to get in.  I highly recommend sitting at the bar if all else fails.  What will not fail you is the food. 
         All that being said, I do have one strange little bone to pick.  You remember my telling you how appealing Jennifer May’s photograph was of the finished dish?  Well, yours will not look this way.  There are no artichokes nor are there two kinds of peas in the recipe.  There is however an unseen carrot and those things I thought were green onions are actually Japanese Cider Turnips and in Joe Beef’s written recipe, they’re a side dish.  I confess to being so confused that I actually made a call to the publisher, Ten Speed Press, asking what accounted for the difference.  This is their reply: “Unfortunately it appears that the “Lamb for Two, Condimint” image does feature other vegetables not included in the printed recipe (turnips, artichokes, snow peas). We’re assuming this is because any seasonal vegetables would work in the dish, but do understand any confusion these omissions might have caused.”  So did I have a recipe or not?
         I loved the idea of the two kinds of peas and I decided to serve the turnips as a side dish as the Joe Beef boys recommended. Other than that I went with the printed version with one tiny exception.  After my peas and carrots had spent their four or so hours cooking, they were hardly wildly colorful.  So just before serving, I steamed some snow peas and put them on the serving platter for color if for nothing else. I used half of one of those boneless legs of Australian lamb that are fairly ubiquitous here.  I used the other half to make curry. The original recipe called for lamb shoulder. With its higher fat content, this cut would be even better for braising (and less expensive) but it’s not widely available locally.  If you can find it, by all means use it. 
         The other key to the success of this dish is the “Condimint”.   This is really a wonderful chutney made with dates, fresh horseradish and mint leaves and my, is it good!  I was glad to have leftovers which I served with a curry to great effect.  Don’t leave it out or you will miss it.  This is another wonderful weekend afternoon dish whose aroma and warmth fills the kitchen and make you happy to be indoors.  Here’s the recipe:

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